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Australian sky-gazers witness ‘ring of fire’ annular solar eclipse

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Sky-gazers were treated to an annular solar eclipse in remote areas of Australia on Friday, with the Moon crossing in front of the Sun to leave a “ring of fire” around its silhouette.

The eclipse, which occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun but is too close to the Earth to completely cover the Sun, was seen in full across northern Australia, while Sydney saw a partial eclipse.

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“It was perfect,” said Geoff Sims, who photographed the event from a remote spot in Western Australia.

“It was my first time I had seen an annular eclipse. I thought it was spectacular. I was actually amazed at how beautiful it was,” he told AFP.

“It (the Sun) came up in a complete golden ring. Just phenomenal.”

From his position about 150 kilometres (93 miles) south of the town of Newman, in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, Sims described the moment he saw the Moon travel in front of the Sun, as if it was dancing.

“It is dancing because the Moon pivots around the edge of the Sun,” he said.

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In November, sky-gazers in Australia witnessed one of nature’s greatest phenomena — a total solar eclipse, when the Moon completely covers the Sun and a faint halo or ‘corona’ appears.

The rare spectacle, which was viewed live by millions around the world, drew thousands of eclipse tourists to Queensland.

While it took place, the early chatter of birds and animals was replaced by an eerie silence as the Moon overtook the Sun, casting a shadow that plunged the land into darkness, sending temperatures dropping.

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A partial eclipse was visible across much of Australia on Friday, with those at the Sydney Observatory watching the Moon take a “bite” out of the Sun.

“What we were able to see was a partial alignment, so at 7:50am this morning the moon slid partially between us and the Sun, kind of like a game of piggy-in-the-middle,” said the observatory’s Geoffrey Wyatt.

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“The Moon blocked part of the Sun… and the tiny little bite got bigger and bigger and bigger as the Moon went between us.”

In Sydney, at its maximum the Moon covered some 39 percent of the Sun, but those in the north of the country saw it obscure much more, leaving the Moon surrounded by the thin band of bright sunlight.

The weather was clear for the partial eclipse, which could only be viewed safely through telescopes and binoculars fitted with solar filters.

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“All eclipse chasers appreciate that it’s always a lottery wherever you go,” Wyatt said in regards to the weather, adding that their rarity was a drawcard.

“Partial solar eclipses, they are not common,” he told AFP.

“The next total solar eclipse that we get to see in Sydney is in July 2028, so that’s a long way off.”


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Trump calls Minneapolis protesters ‘thugs’ — and threatens military action

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President Donald Trump blasted protesters in Minnesota outraged over the killing of George Floyd.

“ I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis,” Trump tweeted after midnight.

“A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right,” he wrote, even though the National Guard was already deployed.

“ These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he threatened.

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A world redrawn: Pop can keep us together, says star DJ David Guetta

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New York (AFP) - Pandemic confinement has electronic dance music titan David Guetta looking inward, and he said he's emerging "extremely inspired" ahead of a New York benefit set for this weekend.A key EDM architect who's heavily influenced the pop of recent decades, the 52-year-old Grammy-winning French DJ will perform a livestreamed set from New York for COVID-19 relief, starting Saturday after the nightly clap for health workers.The exact location remains secret.But Guetta told AFP he's remixing a version of the famed "Empire State of Mind" hit, from rapper Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, for the sh... (more…)

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J.K. Rowling and ‘The Ickabog’: What to know about the new, not-‘Harry Potter’-story that kids are invited to illustrate

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The publication of a new J.K. Rowling story has often been accompanied by lines of robed children, parents, and wizard wannabes waiting outside bookshops to pluck the first volumes from the piles at the stroke of midnight.That won’t be happening, or not at least until late fall, for “The Ickabog,” a children’s story that the “Harry Potter” author began releasing free online Tuesday to entertain kids in lockdown. Her plan is to continue to publish “a chapter (or two, or three) every weekday” until July 10.“I think ‘The Ickabog’ lends itself well to serialisation because it was written as a read... (more…)

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